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Last Updated: Friday, March 8, 2019 2:26 PM

Policy-Related Memos

Link to Chronological List of Policy Memos

Policy Memos by Subject Area

NEPA Assignment

SER, Vol. 1, Chapter 38, provides further clarifications on the Environmental Document Quality Control Program and the 5-step review process for EISs and complex EAs described in the NEPA Assignment policy memos below. Refer to the "Environmental Document Review Process" and "Environmental Impact Statement, Complex Environmental Assessment, and Individual Section 4(f) Evaluation Review Procedures" sections of Chapter 38. Also, refer to Forms & Templates of the SER for the latest version of forms and checklists referred to in the NEPA Assignment policy memos.

Environmental Documents and Determinations

  • Mandatory Filing of Notices of Exemption for Projects Subject to CEQA, Gina Moran, March 21, 2012. This policy memo requires that a CEQA Notice of Exemption be filed with the Governor's Office of Planning and Research (OPR), State Clearinghouse. This requirement applies to any project on the State Highway System for which the Department has determined that the project is exempt from CEQA.
  • Policy Implications of Sunnyvale West Neighborhood Association et al v. City of Sunnyvale, 190 Cal. App. 4th 1351 (2010), Kelly C. Dunlap, July 28, 2011. This policy memo discusses the requirement to compare environmental impacts of a proposed project to baseline conditions as required by CEQA, and it clarifies the Department's approach for traffic modeling in regard to the proposed build project and baseline conditions.
  • The Interim Guidance on Mobile Source Air Toxic (MSAT) Analyses in National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Documents can be found on the FHWA website. exit ct
  • Cumulative Impact and Growth-Related, Indirect Impact Analyses Guidance , Kelly C Dunlap (October 9, 2007) The Guidance for Preparers of Cumulative Impact Analysis helps preparers conduct cumulative impact analysis in support of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the California Environmental Quality Act and other related environmental laws/regulations.
  • Joint Guidance FHWA/Caltrans NEPA Consultation/Reevaluation Guidance, Jay Norvell, (June 21, 2007). This memo discusses the joint guidance of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) on Caltrans NEPA Consultation and Reevaluation Guidance.
  • Department is the CEQA Lead Agency for Projects on State Highway System, Gary R. Winters (June 24, 2004). It draws the attention to the current and long-standing policy that the Department is the CEQA lead agency for improvements projects on the State Highway System. In limited cases, and only when it is in the best interests of the State, the Department may delegate CEQA lead agency status to a local agency. The attachments to this memo sets forth the Department's policy regarding CEQA lead agency status for projects with local participation and provides guidance and considerations to assist districts in determining CEQA lead agency status on local participation projects.
  • Field Office Workload Reduction - Farmland Protection Policy Act, Thomas Weber (Natural Resource Conservation Service), (April 30, 1999). Suspends the requirement for NRCS field offices to make determinations on farmland that is committed to development through local actions. NRCS will defer to local zoning and other commitments (funds, plans , etc.) for development and not determine whether such lands are "farmlands" under the FPPA. The assumption will be that these lands are not farmland as defined by the Act. This ruling has the potential to eliminate the time normally required to coordinate with NRCS on lands in or committed to urban development. (27 KB)
  • PUC General Order 131-D, R.W. Giess (December 13, 1995) (166 KB). Relocations of power lines and /or substations operating at 50 KV and above must be reviewed under CEQA at both the project planning phase and at the relocation plan approval stage so as to qualify for an exception in compliance with section IX.B of the General Order.

Mitigation/Environmental Commitments

(Also see: Biological Issues)

Quality Control/Quality Assurance

Environmental Considerations in Project Delivery

  • Geotechnical Services will Perform Subsurface Investigations in the Project Zero Phase, James Davis (October 20, 2016). This memo requires that geotechnical services be programmed in the PA&ED phase of a project.
  • FHWA Visual Impact Assessment Guidance, Timothy Craggs and Katrina C. Pierce (November 6, 2015). This memo clarifies that although FHWA has released new "Guidelines for the Visual Impact Assessment of Highway Projects," Caltrans will continue to utilize the 1981 guidance until the new guidance has been evaluated and any applicable tools, guidance, and templates/outlines have been updated.
  • Begin Environmental Studies Milestone for Environmental Tracking Databases, Katrina Pierce (June 23, 2015). This policy memo requires that each District use an Environmental Study Request (ESR) that includes the signature of the Senior Environmental Planner or designee. The date that the ESR is signed by the Senior Environmental Planner shall be the “Begin Environmental Studies” date entered into any environmental tracking databases. A sample ESR can be found on the SER forms and templates page.
  • Reference Guide for the Issuance of U.S. DOT Highway Easements or Special Use Permits, Rick D, Land (December 21, 2010). This memo and U.S. Forest Service Reference Guidance is provided as the interim tool for Caltrans and U.S. Forest Service Personnel pending revision of the 1989 U.S. Forest Service/Caltrans MOU.
  • "Blanket" Categorical Exclusion for approval of design exceptions, Jay Norvell (March 3, 2008). DEA has issued a new "blanket" NEPA Categorical Exclusion for the approval of design exceptions. FHWA determined that approval of design exceptions on the National Highway System is an administrative action that triggers NEPA compliance, even in the absence of federal-aid funding. This CE is used for the approval of design exceptions for projects on the National Highway System that were not otherwise subject to NEPA.
  • Environmental Certification Memo, Gary R. Winters (June 21, 2004). It announces the new Office Engineer guidelines that require an Environmental Certification. The Environmental Certification was developed to ensure that environmental commitments are properly incorporated into PS&E, construction contracts, and activities on the ground. DEA has a developed a PS&E Ready to List Review Tool to assist in completing the certification assessment.
  • Relocation Impact Document Survey Processes, Vernon V. Rhinehart (February 26, 2003). This memo clarifies the process for conducting surveys in preparation of Relocation Impact Documents.
  • Clarification of Right of Entry Memo, Brice D. Paris and Gary R. Winters (January 7, 2003). This memo provides clarifying guidance and instructions to a memorandum entitled Right of Entry Guidelines for Environmental Work issued in May 22, 2002.
  • Balanced Environmental Document Delivery, Brent Felker (January 2, 2003). Similar to the need to balance planned Ready To List (RTL) delivery (see attached memo), it is critical that you plan to deliver approximately 25 percent of the environmental documents (EIR or Negative Declaration and NEPA equivalents) each quarter during the fiscal year.
  • Context Sensitive Solutions Implementation Plan, Rick Knapp (October 3, 2002). Attached is the Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) Implementation Plan prepared by the CSS Steering Committee.
  • State-Cost Utility Design Activities Prior to Environmental Approval, Brent Felker (July 24, 2002). This memo sets forth the process and prerequisites for a District/Region to request and obtain the necessary Headquarters written approval before ordering a utility company to commence utility design prior to the approval of the environmental document, when those activities involve State costs. These requirements also apply to Local Public Agency project.
  • Right of Entry Guidelines for Environmental Work, Brice D. Paris and Gary R. Winters, (May 22, 2002) (153 KB). This memo supersedes the memorandum dated November 15, 1999, and sets forth the respective responsibilities of the divisions of Right of Way and Environmental Analysis in obtaining permission to enter property for the purposes of conducting field studies and surveys.
  • Environmental Compliance for Best Interest Determinations (BID) During Construction, Gary R. Winters (April 25, 2002) (89 KB). All Best Interest Determinations (BID) must be forwarded to Budgets Office of Federal Resources with documentation to ensure that air quality conformity requirements have been met, the Right-of-Way Certification remains valid, NEPA requirements have been met and design standards have been met.
  • Designated Disposal, Staging, and Borrow Sites Memo, Karla Sutliff (December 13, 2001). (182 KB). Caltrans and FHWA have determined that, on those projects which cannot accommodate the disposal, staging, or borrow material needs of the project, the District has the option to identify and clear designated sites, making them available for the contractor's use. Also refer to the Disposal Site Quality Team Final Report Concurrence memo (November 21, 2001) (112 KB) from FHWA Division Administrator Michael Ritchie to Caltrans Director Jeff Morales. See also the Disposal Site Quality Team Final Report.
  • "Begin Environmental" Memo, Brent Felker (November 28, 2001). Effective immediately, all new requests for environmental work will be accompanied by a number of required information items, as described in the Attachment 1 of this memo. (213 KB)
  • Review of Encroachments memo, Kim Nystrom (Traffic Operations), Gary R. Winters (Environmental), Joan Sollenberger (Planning), (October 18, 2000), outlines permit application review for environmental issues, particularly in relation to Native American tribes. (915 KB)
  • Change Control Implementation Memo, Brent Felker (July 28, 2000), recommends immediate change to the Project Delivery process to streamline delivery. (235 KB)

Biological Issues

(Also see: Mitigation/Environmental Commitments)

Historic Resources and Community Issues

(Also see: Mitigation/Environmental Commitments)

  • Native American Monitors, Gary R. Winters (November 4, 2003). This memo clarifies the current policy and expectations for Native American monitors on projects developed by Caltrans. An information sheet provides the history of the Department's practice of engaging Native Americans for archaeological and construction monitoring.

Noise Issues

This memo clarifies existing federal policies for noise analysis to ensure consistency in District practices. Additionally, the memo notes that if a noise study was completed under the 2006 Protocol, and had to be re-evaluated due to design changes after the effective date of the 2011 Protocol, noise abatement commitments found to be both reasonable and feasible under the old policy cannot be dismissed solely based on the updated policy criteria.

Hazardous Waste Issues

Stormwater Issues

Performance Measures

Environmental Certification Form - Revision to Track PLAP Performance Measure, Jay Norvell (November 21, 2006). This memo discusses the Program Level Action Plan (PLAP) that was published by the California Department of Transportation (Department) in 2006. This plan sets forth goals for the Department and contains objectives and performance measures for obtaining those goals.

(Last content update: 02/04/2019, JH)